How Restaurants Should Fight Dallas' Dining ADD

Categories: Whimsy

Bistro31_1_SaraKerens_565px.jpg
Sara Kerens
Eric Brandt has Highland Park's attention. It's his job to keep it.
​In this week's paper I tackle Bistro 31, the new Highland Park restaurant by Lombdardi Family Concepts. While researching the story, I spent time reading about Bistro 31 and the other restaurants in the group on well designed websites for each location. One line on Bistro 31's website stood out:

Our menus are changed daily according to quality of ingredients and availability

I interpreted this to mean a rapidly evolving menu that featured seasonal dishes, and menu items that would change often as ingredients became available. But the menu listed on the website, and offered in print in the restaurant, hasn't changed much since Bistro 31 opened. Panna Cotta has been replaced with affogato, but otherwise the menu has remained relatively static for almost two months.

What gives?

I called the restaurant and asked what was meant by the statement and received a completely different explanation. Bistro 31 wasn't trying to imply a rapidly evolving menu, but instead warning that any given time, due to availability of quality ingredients, items depicted on the website menu may not be available when you come to dine at the restaurant.

Sounds fair.

But why shouldn't the menu change? For the past few months I've been thinking about a loose term I see thrown around by restaurant chefs and owners describing the perceived behaviors of their customers. They call the behavior dining ADD. The thought is that Dallas is filled with diners who constantly hunt for the next best thing, and that the reason so many restaurants fail is that customers have no loyalty. Instead they bounce around like moths, chasing the bright lights that illuminate Dallas' newest hot spots.

I have a counter argument. While it certainly must suck to develop a fine menu of well-honed dishes, enjoy the spotlight for a few months and then watch tables sit empty, blaming customers is no way to combat their ADD. No matter how flighty Dallas' dining collective may be, it's the responsibility of the restaurant to reinvigorate their menus, spin their concepts, market their new offerings and keep customers coming in.

Bistro 31 is definitely enjoying its time on Highland Park's center stage. The place was mobbed during every one of my visits. How long the remain the center of attention is up to them.

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6 comments
PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Back in the day when I worked at Laurel's (20th floor of the Sheraton Park Central), the menu changed nightly.  There were a few things that popped up pretty regularly, but each night was a new experience.

TLS
TLS

Exactly!  I can't tell you how many times we have stopped going to a restaurant because we have gotten tired of the menu.  We'll go back after several months or a year and still the same menu!  I'm sure the kitchen staff must get bored making the same old same old every day.

Menus should be changed a minimum of 4 times a year.  Doesn't need to be a complete overhaul but adding new items and taking away the tired dishes tell the customer that someone in the restaurant is paying attention.  

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Small world-I did the valet at Laurels in college (circa ummmm, 1987 or 88); until I wrecked a guys car. They let us nosh on occasion-it was good.  Our lunch of preference was the Fair/Fare.  He he.

TLS
TLS

I loved Laurel's!

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

I also worked at the Stark Club......and the last thing I thought about was food (clearing throat).

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